Ilana Gorban, Samson Chen and Jonathan Rozenblit have aspirations of becoming Toronto Police officers.
To be selected among the first batch of Community Police Academy participants is a major step on their way to accomplishing the goal of becoming one of Toronto’s finest.
During the inaugural fall program, that began on October 22 and ends on December 10, participants will learn about Canada’s largest municipal police service and the criminal justice system, engage in use-of-force training and scenario-based training and tour police facilities.
“This course will help to broaden my understating of policing,” said Gorban, who was a 22 Division-Humber College Police Rover for two years. “I am glad that I was accepted.”
Rozenblit, 20, is a part-time police foundations student at Seneca College.
“I learned about the program through Constable Randy Arsenault (@PCArsenault), who I follow on social media,” said Rozenblit, a security guard. “I network with other officers and I am interested in learning a little bit more about community policing.”
A graduate of Humber College Police Foundations program, Chen was a police Rover for four years.
“I want to understand the way Toronto police operate and get a better grasp of how they serve the community,” he added.
The TPS ran a similar program – the Civilian Police College – that was discontinued just under a decade ago.
Held over a 10-week period, on Wednesday nights from 7-9 p.m., the program attracted several guest lecturers, including Chief Mark Saunders, who was with the Homicide Squad at the time.
“It was really interesting because I was able to learn that people really didn’t understand the complexity of what we do,” he said. “People will hear police say they have a search warrant without realizing that it could be as much as 600–to-700 pages long or 800 pages for a DNA warrant, which I did. These are the little nuances in policing that people don’t understand.
“Once I became Chief I thought that, if we are going to be successful, there needs to be a more comprehensive understanding from both sides because what we have found is that it is a learning experience not only for you, but the instructors. When the instructors learn, they bring it back and teach others. Your presence here says you have a keen interest in what’s going on,” said Saunders.
Graduates are empowered to have an impact on community safety in their own neighbourhoods and act as ambassadors for the Service.
Staff Superintendent Peter Yuen was tasked with the responsibility of renewing the program that’s run in conjunction with Humber College – who offer graduates credits towards a Community Policing Certificate.
“We have designed a robust curriculum and I promise that you will not be bored,” he told the participants. “It is our hope that you can go back into your community and tell them what policing is all about and help clear up some of the misconceptions. You can help them understand why and how we do things and that we are part of the community.”
Through a text message from a friend, Regent Park resident Oubah Omar learned about the program that drew over 150 applications for 30 spots.
Omar intends to make the most of the eight-week program that provides participants with an exclusive opportunity to acquire knowledge on policing issues.
“I want to gain as much information as I could about what the police do and community policing because I want to become either a youth counsellor or a parole officer,” said the second-year Humber College criminal justice program student.
Zachary Mitchell, a youth volunteer in Etobicoke and godson of former Jamaica Canadian Association president Audrey Campbell, who is a citizen volunteer with the Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER) committee, believes the course will enhance his ability to serve the community.
“Everything I learn here, I can take back to my community,” said the Humber College police foundations program graduate who learned about the program while surfing the internet.
The Mississauga resident, who aspires to be a Toronto Police officer, said he was stopped by police on a few occasions.
“I gave them the respect they deserved and they did likewise to me,” he said. “While I don’t think there was a reason for me to be stopped, the interactions were positive.”
Inspector David Rydzik and Sergeants Donovan Locke and Candace Paul played a role in shaping the program.
“You will receive comprehensive and meaningful insight into police officers who work in your communities, as well as the rest of the Service,” Rydzik, the Divisional Policing Support Unit commander, told the inaugural group. “Neighbourhood policing is the foundation on which modern policing practices are formed and based. It is important to examine in greater detail the role that the police have adopted in helping us to control crime and find long-tern solutions to complex community issues.”
Paul, the Civilian Police College co-ordinator, will fill the same role with the Community Police College.
A spring program will be held next year. Anyone 16 or older. who lives, works or volunteers in Toronto. is eligible to apply for the Saturday-morning sessions.